Chapter 33 – Snatching text

Fang Yun asked all the students to introduce themselves, and remember each child’s name and appearance.

After that, Fang Yun began to test their literacy by selecting fifty characters from the Thousand Character Classic. He would say a character and the students would write it down, then he would collect the papers to check.

Fang Yun quickly finished checking and was impressed that all twenty students in the top class had answered correctly.

“Good, it seems that your basic skills are very solid. If I were to teach you The Hundred Family Surnames or The Thousand Character Classic, I would feel like I’m humiliating you.”

Many students smiled. As students in the top class, they had their own pride.

“What do you want to learn then? Speak up.”

A bold child said, “Teacher, your ability to interpret the holy words is amazing. Can you teach us how to do it?”

“I want to learn poetry from you. My sister said she would only marry someone like you, a talented person. I want to be a talented person too in the future!”

The students were enthusiastic and the classroom was very lively.

Outside the classroom, Lu Yingnian frowned, “This is too noisy, it’s not dignified!”

“I think it’s good. This is a Mongolian school, not a school for child scholars. Children should be happy to learn.” A teacher said.

“Although it’s different from us, there’s nothing wrong with it.”

Lu Yingnian had nothing to say. He thought that literary reputation was too important. Even if these people were familiar with him, they would unconsciously be influenced by Fang Yun’s literary reputation and think that everything Fang Yun did was good.

Soon, Fang Yun signaled for the students to quiet down and said, “I can teach you how to interpret the holy words or write poetry, but before that, you need to learn some other things. I have written a Three Character Classic myself, and I will teach you in the coming days. Alright, take out your paper and pen. If you write everything correctly, I will treat you to delicious food during lunch break.”

The sound of rustling paper filled the room as the students eagerly prepared their brushes and ink. They looked at Fang Yun with bright eyes, extremely serious.

Fang Yun nodded in satisfaction. These children may not be smarter than other classes, but their initiative and self-discipline far exceeded ordinary children.

“At the beginning of life, people are inherently good. Their natures are similar, but their habits are different. If they are not taught, their natures will deteriorate. The way of teaching is to emphasize specialization.”

Fang Yun recited the first four sentences of the Three Character Classic slowly.

After finishing, Fang Yun walked around the classroom and found that five of the twenty students had written all the characters correctly.

Fang Yun passed the papers of the five students to the others, and they copied them down while Fang Yun began to explain.

“At the beginning of life, people are inherently good. Their natures are similar, but their habits are different. The first six characters can be understood literally. When people are born, they are all good. The next six characters mean that due to different growth processes and learning environments, there are differences in temperament.”

“If they are not taught…” Fang Yun continued to explain the Three Character Classic carefully.

Most of the teachers outside had been teaching for many years and were all surprised. They didn’t expect Fang Yun to not only be able to write poetry and interpret the holy words, but also have a far superior understanding of life and education than anyone else.

“These words are concise and rhyming. They can be understood after one explanation, and they are indeed suitable for enlightenment. Why haven’t I heard of it before?””He just said it himself, it’s his own composition.”

“How could someone so young write something so profound? I couldn’t even write it in ten years.”

“That’s why he’s the top Child Scholar in the Ten Nations, and you’re not.”

Lu Yingnian felt uncomfortable. He was already an Accomplished Scholar and knew that the Three Character Classic was good, even if it wasn’t at the level of Mingzhou or Dafu. After thinking for a while, Lu Yingnian quietly left.

Soon, Lu Yingnian arrived at the Fang family mansion and met with the Second Madam.

“Auntie, I have important news about Fang Yun.”

“What news?”

“He wrote his own Three Character Classic to teach children. With my years of experience, it’s very good. I suspect that the clan school will add it to their curriculum in a few days, and every teacher will teach it.”

“Really? Fang Yun sure knows how to make things happen.”

“Auntie, I think we should let it go. Fang Yun is very smart and has a big reputation. Offending him will not be worth it. We should think of another way to compete with the main branch.”

“Do you think I’m doing this for myself? Your father-in-law is still alive, and I can still compete with the main branch. But once he dies, the main branch will kick us out. If I don’t fight now, I won’t have a chance later. Fang Jingtang is getting old and will leave the clan school soon. You must become the dean and firmly grasp the clan school in your hands.”

“But my qualifications and talent are not as good as those who came before me, and not as good as Fang Yun’s. How can I compete?”

“Silly child, how can you not compete with Fang Yun? He said he wrote it himself, but who the court recognizes is the first person to submit the document to the Wenyuan. You don’t know the inside story because you’re not from a prestigious family. Many people from prestigious families steal other people’s poems and submit them early. Afterwards, they just pay some silver to settle it.”

“What? Doesn’t the Wenyuan strictly investigate such forgeries? They say they will cancel the literary position and ban the person from the imperial examinations for life.”

“Who would dare to do such a thing without connections in the Wenyuan? Your father-in-law has a good relationship with Qiu Xuezhen from the Wenyuan. I’ll take you to see him and have him help you submit the document. Once the document is published, the Three Character Classic will be yours. With the literary reputation of the Three Character Classic, I’ll push for you to become the dean.”

“But Fang Yun is a Double-Jade Saint. Even if Qiu Xuezhen is willing, he can’t do it. What if Fang Yun appeals to the Holy Academy? Then I’m finished.”

“Of course we can’t tell Qiu Xuezhen that Fang Yun wrote it. When the document is published, you can tell him the truth. Then give him some silver, and he can only help us. Even if Fang Yun goes to the Wenyuan to make trouble, Qiu Xuezhen has a way to suppress this small matter. Fang Yun is just a poor scholar from a humble family. If it weren’t for the Fang family’s support, he would have been tied to a stone and thrown into the Yangtze River by Liu Zicheng. Even if he has literary fame, who would be willing to offend a seventh-rank official for him? Has Fang Yun even met any officials since he arrived in the prefecture?”

“But several teachers and students at the clan school know that Fang Yun wrote it himself.”

“I’ll speak up for you when the time comes. I don’t believe they dare to make a fuss!””But what if Fang Yun becomes a high official in the future?”

“I heard the other day that the Liu family is already planning to make a move against Fang Yun. Even Liu Zhi knows about it. Liu Zhi has an unusual relationship with the Left Chancellor, and it’s said that the Left Chancellor is grooming Liu Zhi to be the successor of the ‘Liu Faction’.”

Lu Yingnian was delighted to hear this and said, “I see. Fang Yun is doomed. I thought you were confused, Auntie.”

“People from prestigious families are not confused. Even if Fang Yun manages to reclaim the Book of Documents, so what? He’s a Fang, and even if the eldest brother personally goes to find him and treats him like a son, will he expose the ugly secrets of the Fang family? If he insists on revenge against me, I can always kneel in front of the eldest brother and sister-in-law. They have kind hearts and won’t make things difficult for me. With me backing you up, you won’t be harmed in the slightest.”

“No wonder. So you already knew that defeat was inevitable. Auntie, you are truly a heroine among women. If you were a man, you would surely be the Left Chancellor.”

Lu Yingnian flattered her shamelessly.

“You brat!”

The bell signaling the end of class rang, and Fang Yun finished the lesson, saying, “Tell me what you want to eat if you got the Three Character Classic right just now. I’ll buy it for you during lunch break.”

A student who got it right stood up and said, “Sir, can you change the food to your own poem ‘Spring Dawn’? My dad loves this poem and keeps talking about it until my ears hurt.”

“Oh, I see. That’s fine.” Fang Yun nodded in agreement.

“I want a poem too!”

“Me too!”

All five students who got it right chose Fang Yun’s poems.

Fang Yun smiled and said, “Don’t regret it. If Song Qiming gets it right, he will definitely choose food.”

Song Qiming protested, “Am I that stupid? If I get them all right, of course I want the teacher’s poem!”

The students laughed.

Two students chose “Spring Dawn,” two chose “End of the Year,” and one chose “The Rise and Fall of the World, the Responsibility of a Common Man.”

Fang Yun wrote them seriously in Liu-style calligraphy.

A student whispered, “Who said the teacher’s calligraphy is ugly? It’s clearly not worse than other teachers’.”

“Maybe someone is making things difficult for the teacher.”

“Could be.”

“The examiner is County Magistrate Cai He, right?”

“He doesn’t sound like a good person.”


The students nodded their heads, and Fang Yun secretly laughed to himself, not bothering to defend Cai He.

After class, Fang Yun returned to the teaching room. Several teachers came over and wanted to copy the full text of the Book of Documents to teach to students in other classes.

Fang Yun let them copy it and took out a book to read silently. After all, it was his first time at the clan school, and he didn’t want to leave immediately after class.

At noon, Fang Yun said goodbye to all the teachers and took a carriage back home. He also bought three sets of All the Saints’ complete works on the way, adding them to his collection of rare books.

When Fang Yun got off the carriage and pushed open the door, a white light quickly rushed towards him. The little fox servant jumped lightly into his arms.

“Ying ying…” The little fox servant happily called out in Fang Yun’s arms, like a mischievous little dog.

Fang Yun touched the little fox’s head, said a few words with a smile, and carried her into the house to eat.Both the students and the teacher reacted well to the “Three Character Classic”. After dinner, Fang Yun took the book and went to find Zhou Zhubu, preparing to file for publication, and more importantly, to ask someone with a high enough status to annotate the “Three Character Classic”.

Just as he walked out the door, Fang Yun returned with Fang Daniu and placed his own “Three Character Classic” on the table, saying, “Dan Niu, copy this ‘Three Character Classic’.”

“You know my handwriting is bad,” Fang Daniu asked in surprise.

“I don’t care if it’s good or bad, as long as it’s legible,” Fang Yun said.

Fang Daniu looked at Fang Yun’s original manuscript and suddenly realized, laughing, “Yes! Your manuscript is now being fought over by officials, and it will be even more valuable in the future. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you! I’ll copy it!”

Fang Daniu sat down and copied the “Three Character Classic” stroke by stroke.

After Fang Daniu finished copying, Fang Yun said, “Without my manuscript, Zhou Zhubu will surely be unhappy. I won’t go, you deliver it for me. I’ll write him a letter, you write it.”


Fang Yun slowly said, “Junqi, Mr. Zhou. Recently, as a student of the Fang Clan School, I have felt that there is a lack of reading materials in the traditional school. Therefore, I have compiled a rhyming and easy-to-understand ‘Three Character Classic’, which allows students to understand benevolence, righteousness, etiquette, and history. The original manuscript has been entrusted to my cousin for delivery, and I hope to find a person of high virtue and prestige to annotate this text, allowing students to immerse themselves in the Path of the Saints.”

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